Monday 21 December, 2015 by Uncle Spike
Today marks the day when I share my annual ‘special’. Published each year on the birthday of my late wife, these zany stories are my kind of memorial. A couple of years back saw the sharing of a classic tale of her spraying a white Volvo station-wagon with black paint and then last year how she sang Men of Harlech on top of Harlech Castle in Wales, dressed in biking leathers 🙂
So for this year, I thought I would share her accidental talent for the double entendre, often with results of socially awkwardness for all those around her! In absolute innocence, it would seem that the mouth can sometimes deliver a slightly dodgy version of one’s intended oration. This is a case in point.
Back in the early 90s, we had been self-renovating our old Edwardian house in southern England, ripping off chunks of wall plaster, renewing the stairs, replacing floorboards, and of course, gutting the aged and filthy old kitchen that had been grossly neglected for a couple of decades by the elderly former occupant. We lived in-situ during much of the work, often ‘habiting’ in a single room as we trashed and regenerated the rest. It was a tale of dust, tears, joy, and debt, as anyone having undertaken similar would attest.
Nearing the end of the kitchen project, there was a rather ‘posh retirement do’ at my parents gaff. In attendance were a gaggle of his lordship’s colleagues, so we are talking mostly senior managers in the IT industry of the 70s-80s, with wives and husbands in tow, the full array of best frocks and suits on display, and a fleet of company cars blocking half the village. Accents were notched up a peg or two, matching the angled noses of some attendees too.
Anyway, you get the picture. We had reluctantly agreed to be there, knowing how much distress it caused us both, when in reality, a trip to the pub on the bike would have been so much more, err, appealing, less nauseating, and just plain old ‘more comfortable’!
When out of my depth, I tend to go quiet, perhaps a tad aloof, and certainly not ‘in my zone’. My late wife, on the other hand, could hold herself pretty well on such occasions, often the centre of attraction with her ease of communication – even though, deep down, she was as uncomfortable as your truly. Of course, discomfort in silence to some (me), makes for over enthusiasm in others (my late wife).
I remember one particularly hoity-toity WAG who seemed to fix in on us as obvious easy prey. Having heard about our kitchen building exploits, she was keen to emphasise the difference between those who ‘managed’ and those of us who ‘did stuff with our hands’ (or work – something she clearly hadn’t one iota of a clue as to that that even was).
~ assume a pretentious upper class condescending British accent for this bit ~
“Oh how wonderful for you my dear. It must be such fun to do these things in your own little house. And your husband [me]; I hear he just erected a super little kitchen for you too! How very quaint.”
Noting the obvious ladles of added bitchy sarcasm loaded into said comment, my late wife played along and responded with her own quip. Stretching on her height advantage (and the 4″ heels), wearing a huge smile and her own poshed-up accent, she quite eloquently retorted at some volume
“Oh yes, how nice of you to say, and how right you are. I am so very lucky, aren’t I.
He really IS a wonderful erector!”
The room fell into utter silence. You could have heard a pin drop in the next village. Well…., stuffy old mare, she asked for that. Don’t think the old man ever recovered though. One of life’s priceless moments.
And thank you…
Posting about days gone by is not always easy. For starters, memoirs have issues of sensitivity. Today I really want to thank the girls for their consent to me sharing this story about their mum; thankfully they share my views on her zaniness and understand why I do this. Equally important, I want to sincerely thank my wife for her generosity of spirit, in encouraging me to not to forget my past. Not only in supporting me at times like this, but in openly befriending the girls (who are growed-up moms too of course).